Above and below: COVID-19 vaccines are administered at Terasaki Budokan in Little Tokyo. Second doses will be given to local low-income seniors on March 16 in partnership with Wesley Health Centers. (LTSC)

The Distinguished Community Service Award was started in 1980 to honor those individuals whose efforts benefit the Japanese American community. The name quickly changed to Community Service Award, and in 1990, the Community Service Award for the first time was given to an organization.

In 2014, the Nisei Week Board changed the name again to the Frances K. Hashimoto Community Service Award in recognition and in honor of a long time Nisei Week Board member, and a community leader and businesswoman in Little Tokyo. The previous year, in 2013, the City of Los Angeles had established Frances K Hashimoto Plaza, which is directly adjacent to the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

The Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC). Founded in 1999, LTCC’s mission is to ensure Little Tokyo remains a viable center for the Japanese American and the L.A. Downtown community. It works to create a vision of what Little Tokyo should be in the future and serves as an advocate on behalf of the community with over 100 organizational memberships. LTCC organized a GoFundMe campaign called “Community Feeding Community” that raised over $200,000 to purchase food from Little Tokyo restaurants and distribute it to those in the hospitality industry who lost their jobs due to COVID. LTCC also organized a GoFundMe campaign called “Little Tokyo Small Business Relief Fund” that raised another $200,000 to help 100 Little Tokyo legacy businesses with a $2,000 grant each.

The Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC). Established more than 40 years ago, the LTSC is committed to improving the lives of underserved individuals and families and promoting the equitable development of ethnic communities and their rich cultural heritage. At the start of the pandemic, LTSC contacted thou­sands of their clients and assessed their needs. Partnering with Keiro Foundation for funding low-cost meals, LTSC’s Little Tokyo Eats Program bought food from Little Tokyo restaurants, then served the meals to seniors for a discount. LTSC also partnered with a medical clinic to bring COVID vaccinations to home-bound seniors and others in Little Tokyo.

At the start of the pandemic last year, organizations including Little Tokyo Community Council, LTSC, Teramachi and Little Tokyo Senior Nutrition Service, in partnership with local restaurants, quickly pivoted to providing meals for elderly residents and workers, suddenly out of work due to COVID-19. (Go Little Tokyo)

The Little Tokyo Public Safety Association (LTPSA). LTPSA was founded in 1986 as a response to crimes that affected businesses in Little Tokyo. In the 1990s, the local businessman began patrolling the area to address car burglaries and aggressive panhandling that intimidated customers, tourists and residents. In 1986, the Koban opened as an information center and an LAPD drop-in center. LTPSA saw the need to help the restaurants during the pandemic, when there was no indoor dining and there was not enough room on the sidewalk, and coordinated with the Little Tokyo Business Association and the City of Los Angeles to established one of the first Al Fresco (outdoor on-street dining) on the north side of First Street between Judge John Aiso Street and Central Avenue. K-rails next to the travel lane created a safe outdoor dining area that helped the restaurants expand significantly and is still in effect. LTPSA also provided lunches for the LAPD patrols who assist in Little Tokyo.

The Little Tokyo Business As­sociation (LTBA). LTBA initially provided much-needed information to all its members about the CDC and county regulations affecting their businesses. LTBA assisted LTPSA in establishing the Al Fresco on First Street and provided information to the businesses on how to set up their operations. LTBA also assisted the restaurants at Honda Plaza and coor­dinated with the owner of the plaza to establish outdoor dining in their parking area, which still exists today.

The Teramachi Homes Senior Condominium Complex. The Teramachi is located at the corner of Third Street and San Pedro Street in Little Tokyo. The residents thought that they could help the restaurants in Little Tokyo by organizing the seniors who reside at the complex and bulk-order food for the residents from the restaurants. They have collected and spent more than $50,000 of lunch orders from the Little Tokyo restaurants over the past year, and continue to serve their Terameals every Tuesday and Thursday.

Volunteers join Los Angeles firefighters at a salute to first responders at the Koban in Little Tokyo on July 1, 2020. Koban and Little Tokyo Business Association worked to establish Al Fresco on First Street and assisted in setting up outdoor dining in Honda Plaza.

The Little Tokyo Senior Nutrition Service (Koreisha Chushoku Kai). Established in 1976, Koreisha is situated at Union Church at the corner of Third and San Pedro streets. Koreisha’s mission is to maintain the health of the body and mind for older adults. They currently provide more than 200 meals at affordable prices with their dining hall and through home delivery, every day of the week. When the pandemic hit, and meals could not be served at the dining hall, Koreisha volunteers had to quickly pivot to deliver all the meals to residents in the area. Thus, during the pandemic, Koreisha maintained serving meals to all the home-bound seniors and minimized the social isolation for these seniors, while also providing them with “integrated” service throughout the pandemic.

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